Edmonton council will discuss the city’s progress in dealing with harassment and bullying issues in the workplace in July — a few weeks later than scheduled.
Tuesday afternoon, city council decided to hold off on reviewing updates on the city’s new employee complaints process and corporate culture.
Coun. Andrew Knack proposed the motion after union leaders showed up to the meeting. He and other councillors felt there wasn’t enough time in the council meeting to hear all the concerns.
“This is a really critically important issue,” Knack said at the council meeting. “Yes I’d like to get it dealt with right away but I also don’t want to rush what is a very serious piece.”
The city started making changes to its policies and practices after an audit last fall showed one in five employees felt they’d been harassed or subjected to discrimination in the workplace in 2016.
Mike Scott, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees local 30 thinks there’s a long way to go.
“Our members don’t have faith in how they go back to work after they’ve filed a complaint,” he said. “How do we still work with this person who’s created a poisoned work environment, how do we face this supervisor day to day?”
The city hired independent consulting firm, Deloitte, in January to receive and manage complaints from employees.
In a report released last week, the company said it had received 235 complaints, 41 were still being investigated and 75 were being assessed. Only two of 19 completed investigations were “fully substantiated.”
Scott said the final investigative reports are redacted, leaving unions with little insight into the cases.
“Names are taken out and situations are taken out and we can’t formulate an argument in the grievance process if we don’t have all the information,” he said.
Scott said the union may be forced to take the cases to arbitration, a “costly process.”
There’s always a cloud over everybody– union president Lanny Chudyk
Lanny Chudyk, president of Civic Service Union 52, said the unions and the city disagree on how much privacy is needed for complainants and respondents.
“As long as there’s a lot of secrecy around these concerns and complaints, there’s not going to be a lot of trust.”
When Deloitte completes an investigation, the report is sent to the city for resolution and the city redacts information for both the complainant and respondent, spokesperson Patricia Hutchison wrote in a statement.
“This redaction is in keeping with privacy law and is performed by the Office of the City Clerk,” the city said.
But Chudyk said the cases are difficult to deal with when complaints are found to be unsubstantiated and they don’t see detailed investigative reports.
“There’s always a cloud over everybody and the complainant feels that their concerns haven’t been addressed.”
Councillors are eager to discuss the findings — and potential holes in restoring workplace trust — in public.
“The complaints are going up, absenteeism is going up and sick leave is going up — all three are primary indicators that we have problems with our workforce.”
Unions plan to make a formal presentation and present their concerns at a city committee meeting July 5.
Chudyk said CSU local 52 is dealing with about 340 active grievances, 50 of which are related to harassment and bullying.
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Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area. It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary, generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road). Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.
Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016, Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.
Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.
The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton. The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.